Capture of Winterfell

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Capture of Winterfell
Conflict War of the Five Kings
Date 299 AC
Place Winterfell
Result Greyjoy victory
House Stark.svg Kingdom of the North/House Stark House Greyjoy.svg Kingdom of the Isles and the North/House Greyjoy
House Stark.svg Bran Stark House Greyjoy.svg Theon Greyjoy
minimal castle garrison (Rodrik Cassel took most of them) ~30
Bran Stark† (alleged)
Rickon Stark† (alleged)

The capture of Winterfell,[1] fall of Winterfell,[2] or taking of Winterfell[3][4] is a daring raid that ends in the capture by House Greyjoy of Winterfell, the ancestral home of House Stark. It marks a turning point in the War of the Five Kings.


As Theon Greyjoy planned, after Dagmer Cleftjaw laid siege to Torrhen's Square as a diversion, Ser Rodrik Cassel raises Winterfell's levies and marches with six hundred men, leaving Winterfell minimally defended.[5][3] Theon travels inland with about thirty ironborn to Winterfell, planning to take it by surprise.


The ironborn attack in the night eight days after Rodrik leaves. Theon sends four ironborn to go over Winterfell's double walls with grappling hooks and swim its moat. From there they sneak up on Alebelly, whom they slay in a postern gate's turret, and they open the gate to let in the rest of the ironborn. With speed and surprise they take the remaining garrison unawares. Hayhead is also wounded. The crippled Bran Stark is able to sense intruders while in the mind of his direwolf, Summer, but Summer and Shaggydog are unable to escape the godswood. A wounded Maester Luwin tells Bran that he was able to send a raven to White Harbor, but a second raven was shot down by the ironborn.[3] Palla, the daughter of Farlen, is raped by Drennan and another ironman.[3]

Theon has the people of Winterfell brought to the Great Hall so they can hear Bran yield the castle. Declaring himself the Prince of Winterfell, Theon takes Bran and Rickon Stark, Big Walder and Little Walder Frey, Meera and Jojen Reed, and Beth Cassel as wards and hostages. "Reek", who has been released from a tower cell, and Osha agree to serve Theon. Stygg slays the blacksmith Mikken when he refuses to yield[3] and Theon has Septon Chayle drowned as a sacrifice to the Drowned God.[4]

Theon does not post guards on Bran and Rickon, and the Starks and Reeds eventually disappear overnight with the aid of Osha and Hodor.[4] Osha seduces and kills the guard Drennan, while the direwolves kill Squint. Unable to find the escapees in the wolfswood, Theon has "Reek" kill two smallfolk in place of the Starks.[4] Theon announces to the world that Bran and Rickon were killed after being captured at a mill on the Acorn Water, and the flayed and tarred heads of the miller's boys are mounted on the walls of Winterfell.[6]


The grief over the alleged deaths of Bran and Rickon causes Robb Stark, the King in the North, to seek solace in Jeyne Westerling's arms and then marry her at the Crag, breaking his marriage alliance with House Frey of the Twins.[7] Realizing that he is in danger of losing the north, Robb seeks to mend his alliance with the Freys[8] and gain their aid for the siege of Moat Cailin.[9] The boys' mother, Catelyn Stark, frees Ser Jaime Lannister from Riverrun in hopes that he will be exchanged at King's Landing for Catelyn's daughters, Sansa and Arya.[6][10] Rodrik gathers a host to Castle Cerwyn to free Winterfell from Theon's ironborn.[6]


I am no Stark. I am a Greyjoy, and I mean to be my father's heir. How can I do that unless I prove myself with some great deed?[11]

All's well, Greyjoy. Hear the quiet? You ought to be drunk with joy. You took Winterfell with fewer than thirty men, a feat to sing of.[4]

—thoughts of Theon Greyjoy

Theon: With thirty men, I captured Winterfell in a night. You needed a thousand and a moon's turn to take Deepwood Motte.
Asha: Well, I'm no great warrior like you, brother, I saw the heads above your gates. Tell me true, which one gave you the fiercest fight, the cripple or the babe?[1]

Asha: Oh, it was cleverly done, I'll grant you. If only you'd had the good sense to raze the castle and carry the two little princelings back to Pyke as hostages, you might have won the war in a stroke.[1]

Asha: How could you be such a bloody fool? Children ...
Theon: They defied me! And it was blood for blood besides, two sons of Eddard Stark to pay for Rodrik and Maron.[1]